Are you preparing for OET Listening Part B and wondering what to expect?
In this blog post, explore the format of OET Listening Part B, learn about the skills being tested, and see some sample questions. You can also find some test tips and preparation recommendations to help you perform at your best on test day.
OET Listening Part B format:
Here’s a quick summary of OET Listening Part B. Read on for more information about this part of the test.
- Six audio recordings of workplace interactions
- One or two speakers
- Approximately 45 seconds each
- One 3-option multiple-choice question per audio
- 15 seconds to prepare
Listening Part B involves workplace interactions. You’ll hear six short recordings from different healthcare settings. There will be one or two speakers, and one of them will always be a healthcare professional. Example situations include part of a handover, a training session, staff briefings, a discussion between colleagues, a discussion between a patient and a health professional, and more.
Each recording is around 45 seconds and has one 3-option multiple-choice question. Before you hear each audio extract, you have 15 seconds to read the question. After the audio, there is another five seconds to select your answer.
Skills for Listening Part B:
Listening Part B tests your ability to understand common workplace interactions. More specifically, you’re being tested on your ability to listen for gist (or main idea) of an interaction, to listen for specific details, to identify a speaker’s purpose (why they’re saying what they’re saying), attitude and opinion, and the listener’s course of action – what will they do as a result of this interaction.
Whether on paper or on computer, you will be able to see all six questions for Part B, but it is best to focus on one at a time. There are instructions at the top which are included in the audio when it begins playing automatically. If you’re taking OET on paper, be sure to fully shade in the circle, A B or C. If you’re doing OET on computer, select your answer with a left click.
Sample Part B (OET on paper) question sheet
Before you hear each audio, there is a context statement which gives you some background to the situation. For instance, ‘You hear a nurse briefing her colleague about a patient’. You will also hear this on the audio, and you then have 15 seconds to prepare by reading the question and answer options. In this case, the question is, ‘What does she warn her colleague about?’
Sample Part B Question
Here are 5 tips to succeed in Listening Part B.
1) Make the most of your reading time.
If you’re well prepared, you don’t need to read the instructions at the top on test day. Instead, use that time to read ahead and start looking at the questions.
2) Use the context statement.
Before each question, the context statement gives you information about the speaker or speakers and situation. Use this to imagine being in that situation. What kind of language will you expect to hear? The context statement helps you to be ready for what’s coming.
3) Read the question carefully.
You need to know what to focus on. Consider this question:
‘What is the plan for the patient today?’
In the audio, the speakers might discuss what happened to the patient yesterday and what will happen tomorrow or next week, but your job is to focus on today.
4) Focus on the meaning of the answer options, not just individual words.
For instance, in this question, option C says, ‘A social worker will come to see what help she needs’.
In the audio, you might hear the term ‘social worker’ or ‘social work’, but that doesn’t mean that this is automatically the correct answer. For this answer to be correct, you need to hear all elements of the option; that a social worker will come to see what help she needs today.
5) Be aware of paraphrase.
Don’t expect to hear exactly the same words from the question or options in the audio. The speakers will use synonyms and parallel expressions, different ways to say the same thing.
The preparation you do for Listening Part B will help you become a more confident professional and colleague in your future English-speaking workplace. Here are some ideas to improve your skills when listening to workplace interactions.
1) Get to know authentic workplace language.
If you’re not already working in an English-speaking environment, use YouTube or your favourite streaming service to find TV shows, documentaries and movies that are in healthcare contexts. Watch the same thing several times with and without subtitles to get familiar with the language and the rate of speech.
2) Get used to English spoken at ‘natural’ speed.
Although OET Part Bs are scripted interactions, the pace is close to natural and may be faster than you’re used to if you’ve taken English classes at school or privately. To improve your ability to cope with natural speed in English, use podcasts or YouTube and play around with the speed. You can slow it down and speed it up as you get more confident.
3) Use sample tests to build language knowledge.
When you’ve done a practice test, make the most of it by checking that you know all the words and expressions used in the questions and the transcripts. Get to know the language used in the questions and stems. Keep a record of any new language you meet and make sure that if you didn’t know some language before that practice test, you definitely know it next time you read or hear it.
OET Listening Part B is a short sharp part of the test, simulating the kind of communication you will hear regularly in an English-speaking environment. Use our free practice tests and check out the on-demand lessons on our YouTube channel to polish your skills.
Here are some helpful links:
Check out our other Listening Guides: